I-RECALL: Perspective - Owning content is the future for ads

Back in the very early days of new media, long before the internet

became a mass-market medium, I used to attend 'multimedia' conferences

in Silicon Valley. The people I hung out with were human/computer

interface designers, academics, information architects, games designers

and coders. Not a TV network, advertising agency or media conglomerate

in sight.

We used phrases such as 'users are producers' and 'content is king'.

IT was all about people interacting with content in the way they wanted,

when they wanted. Fast-forward to the present. In our increasingly

non-linear, multi-platform, time-shifted world, it has struck me how

important good content really is: content is king.

The process of identifying a piece of content, such as a TV show, and

then placing an ad that fits with the viewing demographic is well


But we can no longer guarantee when an audience sees a commercial, nor

the context in which it is viewed. For example, I don't watch Friends at

the scheduled broadcast time, I watch it off a TiVo box on Sunday


This makes the ad for Domino's Pizza rather redundant, time-wise.

OK, TiVo penetration is minuscule right now but time-shift and

video-on-demand are going to be huge and ignoring them will not make

them go away. And while clever ad-insertion technologies will help, the

only sure-fire way of exposing a brand in this new digital space is by

embedding it in the content itself.

Most people's initial thought is of those terrible 'advertorial' shows

or the regulatory issues which prevent programming and advertising from

getting too close to each other.

The future must be to create new genres of show using world-class skills

from the advertising, TV production and interactive worlds. Such content

can work across several platforms such as TV, internet and games


But making new shows is not the only option - the brand could own the

'enhanced content' which runs behind the regular TV programme. The very

nature of a 'show' is going to undergo radical transformation.

A major ad can easily cost more than a TV show. Maybe brands could have

a go at making 30-minute shows rather than 60-second ones, guaranteeing

eyeballs and relevance no matter what time the show is viewed and own a

slice of the intellectual property too?


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